How Will I Prepare My Child For a Hospital Stay?
Staying at the hospital can be an intimidating time for your child, so it is important for you to prepare them for the time away from home. Before you talk to them you should first educate yourself about their visit.
Here are some ways you can prepare for your child’s visit:
- Research and gather information about your child’s condition in case they have questions
- Learn about the tests and procedures that are planned for your child
- Contact the hospital to see if a tour is available prior to admittance
- Contact a child life specialist on the unit to assist you in preparing your child
- Identify a support system for you and your family during this time
- Talk to the child’s teachers to keep them up to date with schoolwork
Once you are prepared to talk to your child:
- Talk to them in age appropriate language they can easily understand
- Answer all of their questions honestly and openly
- Assure them they won’t be alone
- Read them books and other information about going to a hospital
- Encourage them to help pack for the visit
What You Need to Know
The hospital can be a very intimidating place, but always remember: YOU know your child best! Don’t be shy to speak up and advocate for your child. Ask the staff questions if you don’t understand something, and be very specific when telling them about your child. The staff often relies on you for information such as how often your child should take his or her medicine, at what times and what words do they use for pain, potty, etc.?
Also, although it can be a stressful experience, and filled with sleepless nights, please remember that everything we do truly is in the best interest of the child (especially when it comes to painful procedures and frequent vital signs).
Who Will My Child Meet?
Your child’s healthcare team will consist of numerous doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, and other staff. Everyone works together to give your child the best care possible.
The PICU has three full time intensivists. You may also hear them referred to as the "attending". They oversee the care of your child and are in charge of the PICU team.
Pediatric Critical Care Nurse Practitioners
The PICU has five pediatric nurse practitioners (PNP’s). PNP’s are nurses that have a Master’s degree and special training to care for critically ill children. Your child’s PNP will direct your child’s care and may change from day to day. The PNP’s in the PICU work closely with the attendings and are able to speak with you about any questions you may have concerning your child’s care.
Sinai Hospital is unique in that we are a community hospital as well as a teaching hospital. "Residents" are medical doctors that are still in training and are under the direct guidance and supervision of the PICU’s intensivists. Residents also help direct your child’s care. Residents typically rotate through the PICU on a monthly basis, so you may see him or her daily during your child’s stay in the PICU.
- (A PNP or Pediatric Resident will be available on the unit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Registered Nurses (RN’s)
RN’s are licensed healthcare workers that will provide direct care for your child. He or she will be administering medications, taking vital signs, and providing overall care for your child. Please feel free to ask your child’s nurse any questions you may have regarding their care.
Respiratory Therapists (RRT’s or CRT’s)
If your child has problems with breathing while in the hospital, an RRT or CRT will be administering breathing treatments or other specialized care to assist in your child’s recovery.
The PICU social worker is here to help you with the stress and worry you may be feeling about your child’s hospitalization. The social worker will visit with you in the first few days of the hospitalization to provide support and information as it relates to what is going on to your child’s hospital stay. The social worker can provide education on your child’s diagnosis and can provide support to help you locate outside resources to help you meet your needs while you are here. The social worker will also provide assistance to make sure that all of the necessary discharge planning needs are in place prior to your discharge. We know that this is a difficult time for you and for your family, so please feel free to ask for help and ask questions and we will see what can be done to help meet your needs.
Child Life Specialists
Child Life Specialists are here to help you, and make your child’s stay in the PICU as comfortable as possible. They have expertise in dealing with your child’s concerns, reactions to the hospital, and his or her illness. They will help you and your family understand what is happening through education, medical play, and activities. The Child Life Specialists are located in the Pediatric and Teen Playroom.
Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy (PT/OT)
Depending on your child’s reason for being in the PICU, he or she may require the services of PT / OT. Some children are not able to get out of bed during their stay or have an exceptionally long stay in the PICU. PT’s & OT’s are trained in ensuring your child gets the proper care to keep their joints and muscles healthy.
If necessary, the pediatric intensivists may ask a consulting physician to evaluate your child. Consulting physicians have special training in particular areas of Pediatric Medicine. A consulting physician may make recommendations regarding your child’s care. Please ask consulting physicians any questions you may have regarding the changes that might be made.
Primary Care Physicians (your child’s pediatrician)
The PICU’s intensivists will keep your child’s pediatrician updated during the hospital stay. Pediatricians also serve as a resource for the PICU staff regarding your child’s medical history. Your child’s pediatrician can also help you understand what is going on with your child, and is welcome to visit you and your child at any time.
Sinai Hospital is a teaching hospital. This means that there may be students from all areas of the hospital assisting in your child’s care. Please keep in mind that any student working in the hospital is under the direct supervision of trained and/or licensed personnel.
A Rabbi, Priest, or Pastor is available to help care for your family’s spiritual well being. Your child’s nurse can facilitate a visit from a member of pastoral care.
Administrative Associate (AA)
AA’s sit at the nurse’s station and can assist you with obtaining refreshments and personal care items.
Environmental Associate (EA)
An EA is the person responsible for keeping your child’s room clean. He or She will be in and out of your room at various times during the day.
A dietary hostess is responsible for assisting you and/or your child in ordering meals. He or She will also be the person to deliver your meals.
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